Give Local Success: Ablaze in Bristol

Illiteracy is reported to cost the UK £36 billion a year and the World Literacy Foundation reports that one in four working-age adults struggle to read and write. Ablaze seeks to address this growing trend by supporting young people at the earliest opportunity, to help facilitate their mastering literacy before heading into secondary school.

The aim of our Reading Buddy programme is to partner Bristol businesses with local primary schools who are struggling to raise the literacy levels of their under-performing pupils. Staff volunteers support pupils in one-to-one reading sessions throughout the school year. Our Reading Buddy programme offers pupils more opportunities for reading for pleasure, encourages them to gain a love of books and reading and to provide them with a positive adult role model to help raise their career aspirations. 

We focus our support on schools in the more deprived areas of the city with a high number of disadvantaged pupils. Our priority as a charity is to tackle the inequality of opportunity for young people in the West of England and we aim to

·       Raise young people’s confidence and aspirations

·       Support their attainment and skill levels and

·       Empower them with knowledge to make more informed choices about their future.

Ablaze has been fortunate to receive a Give Local Grant from United Way for three years now, which we have put towards our Reading Buddy programme.  Annual evaluation shows the positive impact this intervention has on primary pupils. Current statistics show:

·        97% of pupils improved their reading levels

·        95% of supported pupils are reading with more confidence

·        93% of pupils say they will read more following their Reading Buddy volunteer support

As part of our commitment to encourage primary pupils to read more, this year we were delighted to receive a ‘Reading Oasis’ for one of our Reading Buddy schools from United Way UK. This involved a revamp of Hareclive E-Act Academy’s library, donations of furniture & books. The school were thrilled. As part of our shared commitment to encourage primary pupils to read more, Ablaze and United Way UK are also facilitating further Bristol schools, including Badock’s Wood Primary, with a Reading Oasis.

Encouraging pupils back into their libraries and reading books is an important step forward, as with the rise of communication tools like email, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, the written word now often dominates our social interactions.  In order for young people to communicate effectively in society today, it is even more imperative that they are able to read & write. This will additionally help empower them with the ability to take charge of their lives and futures. 

We are very grateful to United Way UK, other grant givers and all our business partners for supporting our charity. Although Ablaze work solely in the West of England, we are always looking for corporate donations from across the world to help empower young people to a better future.  The World Literacy report also states that “literacy enriches lives and is transformative in encouraging better outcomes for health, wellbeing, prosperity and happiness.” This highlights the importance of our work and the value of reading volunteers supporting the pupils who need it most.

If your business’s CSR policy focuses on the education of disadvantaged young people and you would like to support our work, please visit our website for further information and get in touch with us on